“Paul Ryan, Randian? No, just another neocon”

Are we just one heart attack or gunshot away from an Ayn Rand presidency? No. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Paul Ryan’s voting record speaks loudly. He is no Randian libertarian. Rather, he is just another run-of-the-mill big government neoconservative. Ryan’s rise isn’t the ascent of Ayn Rand, but the return of George W. Bush.

Paul Ryan votes like a neoconservative, not a Randian. Neoconservatives, such as George W. Bush or Dick Cheney, talk the small government talk but walk the large government walk. They charge the US government with exporting democracy and the American way of life to the rest of the world. They charge the government with guarding the moral and sexual virtue of citizens. They want government to champion and support big business.



Viewpoints: Why is faith falling in the U.S.?

“This rapid and widespread falling away of the young from institutional Christianity is the first harvest of what sociologists Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton dub “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”.

According to Smith’s research, MTD is the default religion of nearly all American young people, both Christian and non-Christian, who are a generation of theological illiterates (Mormon youth are a fascinating exception).

MTD teaches that God exists and wants us to be nice, and that happiness is the point of life. In MTD, God, who is “something like a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist”, doesn’t have to be involved in one’s life unless one needs something.

It’s the perfect pseudo-religion for an individualist, consumerist, prosperous culture. You can see why a generation raised on MTD would have no interest in traditional religion, with its truth claims and strictures.”


“The work of Friedrich Hayek shows why EU governments cannot spend their way out of the Eurozone crisis,” Steven Horwitz

“The assumption in most stimulus spending is that there are projects just waiting to be pursued if only we would spend the money. What is overlooked is whether the capital and labour that are idle are the resources best suited to those projects, not to mention whether consumers and citizens even want those outputs in the first place. Just buying, hiring, and producing for the sake of “doing something” will create a structure of production that is quickly found to be unsustainable. A few projects may be “shovel ready,” but most will require engineers and others to do the planning. If the unemployed are mostly construction workers and financial managers, these projects will not be able to find the engineers they need at wages they can afford, and unemployment will not be reduced.”


Science: An Effective Method?

In this post on the CR blog, Lee Kelly draws a great analogy between the critical rationalist view of science and Darwinism, contrasted against the conventional, inductivist, view of science which is more analogous to Lamarckism, an obsolete theory:

“Scientific theories are like mutations. We do not need to specify a mechanical rule to create new theories, but merely standards of criticism (selection pressures) to subject them to: logical consistency, falsifiability, problem-solving potential, simplicity, explanatory power, and possibly others. The ecological niche we create for our theories should be one designed to weed out error and falsehood, irrationality and redundancy. Induction, concerned as it is with the origin or source of theories, serves no purpose in such a critical discourse.”


“Libertarianism and Communitarianism”, Troy Camplin

Camplin emphasizing the same distinction between “rationalistic” individualism and “true” individualism as Hayek in Individualism and Economic Order. 

“In the Cartesian version, the person is a radical individual who defines himself, preferably apart from society. In the Scottish version, the person is an individual imbedded in a nested hierarchy of communities, including nuclear and extended families, churches, workplaces, schools, neighborhood and communities, towns and cities, counties, states, and nations. We are defined in various ways by each of these things, and we are different people in each of these different situations. Thus is our individuality defined within our social situation. Recent studies in anthropology, ethology, and primatology have shown that the Scottish philosophical tradition is much more accurate than is the Cartesian tradition.”


On Being an Absolute Skeptic

“Remorseless though the logic is, it is at this point that reasonable people dig their toes in. Can it be seriously maintained that present-day science is no more than a string of lucky (and unlucky) guesses, guesses that are no better than are those of ufology, dianetics, and similar unseemly bunkum? It is important to understand why this is not what is being maintained by critical rationalists. Scientific hypotheses are guesses, yes; these guesses are no better backed by observation and experiment, and have no more claim on our credulity, than have the (unrefuted) fancies of pseudoscientists, again yes. But science is more than the sum of its hypotheses, its observations, and its experiments. From the point of view of rationality, science is above all its method—essentially the critical method of searching for errors. It is the staunch devotion of science to this method that makes the difference. What is wrong with pseudoscience is the manner in which it handles its hypotheses, not normally the hypotheses themselves (though if they are designed to be unassailable and unfalsifiable, then unassailed and unfalsified they doubtless remain). But although a hypothesis that survives all criticism thrown at it is preferable to a hypothesis that dies, it does not become a better hypothesis through being tested. It may have been a better hypothesis from the outset, of course; it may be true. True hypotheses are what we seek.”

-David Miller